In an earlier post, I uploaded a garden labyrinth design for my own back yard. The challenge is to create privacy and grow all of my own food this year. Each year I grow more of my own food and this year I would like to grow 100% of it organically. I have purchased all organic seed. This is important as seed that is not organic has residual chemicals which would be left in the soil. I have purchased organic soil from Milan on Brenton-Page road-250-667-1029 https://www.facebook.com/highlineenvironmental/
The first two garden boxes took 2 yards of soil to fill. Each box measures 4 foot x 8 foot and are 12 inches high. I placed them parallel along the south side of my driveway with enough space between them to get a lawn mower or a wheel barrow between them. This area of the yard is very wet due to the gray water from the laundry room being drained here, so it should be a perfect place for a growing medium. I have added bone meal and blood meal to the boxes and worked it in. I will test the soil today and see how high the nutrient level is and if anything more is required. In a few days I will plant some early vegetables. It is a busy season already so I will have to fit my garden time in after work as I did the last two nights. When buying seeds it is important to verify they are organic non-GMO seeds. West Coast seeds are offered for sale at almost every garden centre and many other retail outlets. They also offer mail order for convenience. They are high quality certified organic seeds and their website is a wealth of information on gardening.
See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
Last year in our community two derelict houses were being demolished so we approached the project manager on site and ask about the cedar fence. It was red cedar and was still in excellent condition after years of standing. It has weathered beautifully and I knew it would be perfect for garden projects. He happily gave us the fence if we were willing to remove it, after the homes were demolished.
After removing it, one box was built and the rest of the wood stored for future projects. The original plan was to build garden boxes and sell them. Then after the move to the new home, I realized that I was not willing to part with it. The wood is perfect for my garden plan. Working out the amount of wood required for my Garden Labyrinth, I realized I had enough wood for 10 garden boxes, not including the one already built.
My biggest concern with my Labyrinth design was what wood to use in the garden. I need something that will stand up to the elements of weather here on Vancouver Island. The red cedar is perfect. It has a life span of about 20 years. The garden boxes will be built and put in place without a bottom. In order for me to utilize the gray water in my yard, it is necessary to leave the bottom open so it can draw up the ground water.
The yard which is so overgrown is actually a blessing in disguise…a labour intensive blessing, but a blessing just the same. As I prune each shrub and tree, I will chip the waste and put it in the bottom of each box. It will draw up the moisture and it will slowly break down and enrich the soil, as well as keeping it aerated. Keep in mind it does not have to be chipped, it could actually be cut in smaller pieces by hand and added to the bottom. Wood chips will be added on top of the chipped garden waste as it will retain water and minimize the need for watering. The garden boxes will be approximately 20 inches high so each box will require approximately 10 inches of waste and wood chips before the organic soil is added. The soil will be 2 inches below the top of the box.
I have not measured the yard for exact measurements as it is still covered in snow. So I know my garden plan will have to be tweaked after measuring.
In an earlier post I showed winter damage to a tree in my back yard. Here is the update, after carefully cutting the branch off at the base, I will leave the tree to heal. I will not treat it unless there is a problem with it healing. In the weeks to come, I will check on it continually to ensure that it has become diseased or infested with insects. Although the damage is considerable to the branch, it is actually a good time for it to heal, since there are few insects around at this time of year and the thaw has not happened so the sap has not started running. I would be much more concerned if it was later in the season and the sap was running and the insects were out as it could easily draw insects to its wound.
And although this is quite a big wound, the tree will be none the worse for wear if I have to cut the entire branch off. The most important thing to do is to keep checking the tree as it heals. The branch actually has two other healthy branches forking off of it, so I really would like to give the branch a chance to heal. The other branches that were broken were much smaller so it was just a matter of cutting them off.
This winter on Vancouver Island has had unusual weather patterns for the last two months. After finishing a spring garden clean up two days ago, this is what we woke up to in Ladysmith BC (mid-island on the east side of Vancouver Island).
It has finally stopped snowing…so much for spring clean ups…at least I got two finished!!!
For many who do not live on Vancouver Island it is a shock for them to find out that although we live in Canada, we don’t (as a rule) get snow…or at least not the kind that hangs around for days…never mind months. Well this year has been much different. In December of 2016, the 3rd of December to be exact, was my last day working for the rest of the month. Winter came and stayed and stayed and stayed. We were in a deep freeze for over a month and the snow that came…STAYED! So much for living in a rain forest! When the snow finally melted (most of it) two weeks ago, it was only because we received so much rain. It washed away the snow and melted the ice. I have now been back to work for the last two weeks.
Since it was so cold and frozen, I had to lay the staff off and am now back to work, but working alone for the time being. Springs clean up has already started in many gardens and I am hard at work. Many shrubs and trees have winter damage from carrying the weight of the snow and ice for so long. Many branches are broken or damaged which means a larger clean up then normal. I have also started trimming and pruning, as well as weeding. It is a perfect time to weed as the ground has so much moisture many of the weeds pull right out. Which is great because saving time on weeding helps to off set the extra time required for the extra clean up and the extra pruning necessary to keep the gardens healthy and vibrant.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the palms that have been planted in so many gardens. The research I have done says that the palms can withstand temperatures dipping to -10 C. However, we had extended periods of days where it stayed that cold. It is true that mother nature can be cruel and it will be sad if many of the palms do not survive. They add a new texture and vibrancy to the landscape here on the island and I shall be sad if their survival is threatened. As the temperatures warm up we will see what has been damaged. Only time will tell.
For those gardeners who are unsure of when to prune or trim. There are basic rules that I follow.
- Any plant or tree that has damaged limbs…prune immediately.
- Pruning and trimming in the fall/winter will slow down growth as the plants are moving towards dormancy.
- Pruning and trimming in the spring stimulates growth as the plants are becoming active again.
- Never ever take more then 1/3 off of any plant or shrub as it could kill it. The more you prune or trim the more likely it is that the plant will become stressed. When a plant is stressed it can bring many problems. It sends a message to insects, diseases, fungus, etc…”I am not well so come and eat me.” Plants are similar to humans…stress can be a killer.
The garden owner wanted her garden enlarged to be able to plant spring bulbs. Her challenge is to have colour all year long in the garden. Her back yard is fenced so deer are not a problem. She also has a beautiful cat who helps to keep the squirrels and other critters from digging and feasting on anything she plants. The existing garden gets plenty of sun fall to spring so it is a perfect location for her to extend. She also has a problem with her grass…a serious lack of top soil limits the grass from growing but allows the weeds to multiply exponentially. A common problem with lawns today.
I brought in 1/2 yard of organic garden soil, 1 bale of coconut peat, 1 pail of bone meal and 1 pail of blood meal. It is important to amend any soil added so there is a balance of nutrients for an optimum growing medium. The soil was unloaded one wheelbarrow at a time. As mentioned her entire yard is fenced so the soil must be brought in one wheelbarrow at a time from her driveway. Each wheelbarrow was mixed with the soil amendments using a pitch fork then added to the existing garden. Remember to add enough soil so that it is approximately 2 inches higher then what you require. The soil will settle considerably over time once you have added it.
For a small garden extension like this one, I use an edger to cut through the sod for a guide to follow the edge of the new garden area. For a larger area or a new garden, I often use a garden hose to lay out for a guide. A garden hose is perfect as you can adjust or rearrange it for the curves you want. Then I use the edger to cut through the soil or sod to follow as a guide.
I took all of the sod out first and then used a pitch fork (my favorite tool) to work up the existing soil to about 4 to 6 inches. Then I added the new amendment of soil and worked it into the existing soil making sure it was well blended. Carrollyne is very happy with her new garden. She loves how rich the soil is and said it was a pleasure to plant with bulbs. Her only challenge was her beautiful kitty…who thought the new garden was for her, so Carrollnye used chicken wire over the top to keep her kitty out!
Cheers! See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂